We're happy to announce that our guest Sean Ellis released his new book today, covering customer activation amongst many other growth hacking tips and stories. If you like what you hear in today's podcast, we encourage you to check out “Hacking Growth,” now available for purchase on Amazon!
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Sean Ellis, CEO and founder of GrowthHackers, to discuss “Optimizing Your Team for Customer Activation.” GrowthHackers helps companies achieve sustainable customer and revenue growth. The business has multiple dimensions, spanning content, community, training and software. GrowthHackers.com, since its launch in 2013, has grown into the foremost online community for the “growth hacking” movement. Now a well-known destination, the site offers an impressive trove of growth hacking resources both proprietary and user-submitted. All content is surfaced, commented on, and filtered by the community of GrowthHackers members, now hundreds of thousands strong. Last year, Sean and his team dramatically expanded the scope of GrowthHackers’ offerings by releasing “Projects,” a purpose-driven software to help teams achieve and manage their growth objectives. This year, the team launched formal consulting and training offerings for companies seeking to adopt key growth hacking techniques and concepts.
In our episode today, Sean discusses a concept he sees as fundamental to the future of growth hacking: customer activation. Customer activation is best described as that “a-ha!” moment when a customer experiences a product’s true value for the first time. Customer activation, in other words, is a proxy for that “first taste” of product-market fit. Importantly, achieving customer activation is a cross-functional effort: sales, marketing, customer success, and even product must all be aligned and communicating in order to understand what that “a-ha” moment is and how to optimize for it. If your teams and objectives are too siloed, you run the risk of missing this critical org-wide goal. In today’s episode, Sean explains how startup leaders should think about structuring their teams to ensure that customer activation is front and center. He shares several examples of how he helped companies like Dropbox and LogMeIn find and maximize product-market fit by testing for customer activation. Make sure to subscribe to the Bowery Capital Startup Sales Podcast for a new episode every week!
Sean Ellis is the CEO of GrowthHackers. He founded the business in 2010, the same year in which he coined the term “growth hacker” (in this blog post). Sean was also the founder and CEO of Qualaroo, a SaaS voice-of-customer solution serving large companies like Uber, Starbucks, Spotify, Burger King and Intuit. Qualaroo was acquired 2016. Prior to founding Qualaroo in 2012, Sean served as a key early growth / marketing executive at a range of technology businesses including Dropbox, Eventbrite, Lookout, LogMeIn, and Uproar. Sean is also a longtime angel investor, has formally advised many startups (including, most recently, Mavenlink), and has served as a Guest Lecturer at Harvard Business School. Sean holds a BA from the University of California, Davis, and lives in Newport Beach, CA.
I also wanted to share a few resources for anyone that would like to learn more about Sean, GrowthHackers, or the growth hacking strategies they have developed. As mentioned above, we encourage you to check out Sean's new book, released just today: “Hacking Growth.” If you're more of an in-person learner, the annual GrowthHackers Conference is also coming up on May 24th in LA. Finally, if you’d like to explore some of GrowthHackers’ more hands-on training options, Sean suggests you start with their new GrowthMaster Training Course (follow this link for a 20% discount). Happy growth hacking!
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Bobbi Jo Price, Head of Sales at ClearCare, to discuss “Organizational Restructuring As You Move Upstream.” ClearCare is a front-to-back office software solution for private duty home care agencies. ClearCare’s web and mobile platform offers scheduling, integrated telephony, two-way caregiver messaging, and marketing tools that help streamline care planning and automate back office tasks. Bobbi joins us to discuss the difficult task of organizational restructuring as you move upstream and how to restructure your sales team for high ACV sales, a process many startups find themselves undergoing as their product moves upstream. She walks us through everything from the differences between low and high ACV selling, the sales team retraining that this transition requires, coordinating sales and on-boarding efforts, and managing expectations across departments. We also talk about when a startup should be looking to hire outside sales talent versus promoting existing members during this transition to enterprise clients. Lastly, we touch upon effective strategies for maintaining employee morale during the ups and downs of this restructuring process. This topic of organizational restructuring as you move upstream comes up a lot and we hope you enjoy it.
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Eileen Wiens, VP of Emerging & SMB Sales at Intacct, to discuss "Hiring Sales Generalists Versus Sales Specialists." Intacct is the largest private ERP vendor that provides cloud-based financial management and accounting applications for businesses and CPA firms. The company's applications are used by more than 8,500 organizations from startups to public companies and are designed to improve business performance and make finance more productive. In this podcast episode, Eileen joins us to discuss whether early stage startups should hire sales generalists - individuals with great sales acumen but less experience selling in the specific space - or sales specialists - individuals with very specific knowledge and domain expertise in a particular space - when building out their sales teams. Having led multiple sales teams throughout her career and toying with this question of hiring sales generalists versus sales specialists, Eileen has an in-depth understanding of how a successful sales team operates and shares with us what she looks for in the ideal sales representative. In addition, Eileen shares her insights on the optimal sales interview format, sales team training and motivation, and best practices for new hire on-boarding.
Building out an SDR team is is no easy task in the world of business software. Many founders are curious about the allure of these programs as you never seem to have enough pipeline. Founders have probably heard about amazing resources called Sales Development Reps (SDR) that should generate a ton of inbound for your company. Today, we were joined on the podcast by Shelley McNary, the VP of Sales at Bill.com to discuss "Building Out An SDR Team" as well as the specifics behind how and when do this at your software company. Shelley knows a thing or two about the topic having led inside sales efforts for companies like Taleo, MapR, and SignalFX.